Y&R Chicago’s Breen Tackles M&A

CHICAGO-Howard Breen was brought in to head Young & Rubicam’s Chicago office in September 1999 as part of what many saw as a bit of a housecleaning.

With Y&R’s U.S. operations in disarray, Breen this week was called up for a larger role, serving as director of mergers and acquisitions for Y&R North America. He will focus on seeking the right kinds of agencies that Y&R would want to acquire, said Kary McIlwain, who is taking over as president and chief operating officer of Y&R in Chicago.

“He is able to assess situations pretty acutely and thrives at having all the balls up in the air at once,” said McIlwain.

Breen remains chairman and CEO of Y&R in Chicago, from which he will continue to work, reporting to Ed Vick, chairman & CEO of Y&R in New York. Breen was unavailable for comment at press time.

Breen formerly headed Y&R Canada, which became Canada’s third largest shop during his three years there. He started his career on the client side, working for General Foods, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo.

McIlwain was previously an evp and managing director of Y&R in Chicago. She continues to report to Breen and in her role as senior manager on the shop’s Sears, Roebuck & Co. account.